Care and Compassion: Pay It Forward

Posted 22 July 2014 1:14 PM by TCAuthor3

By Dorothy Erdmann, CEO, Shawano Medical Center

Shawano Medical Center is a community hospital, which means the people who built it and use it have a say and a stake in how it is operated—and rightfully so. It was particularly hard work to construct the Shawano Municipal Hospital in 1931, the precursor to today’s Shawano Medical Center. People in the community not only donated building materials and money to make the hospital a reality, it was their own labor, during the depths of the Great Depression, which raised its walls. Talk about a sense of ownership!  Their project, their passion, and their proud work brought a first-class hospital to the place they called home.

It’s fair to say that this long history connected to our beloved 80-year-old red brick hospital on the banks of the Wolf River is why it’s hard for some people to embrace the idea of a brand new medical center. It’s hard to break away and try something new. Simultaneously, when I give tours of the construction site to staff members and people from the community, I’m struck with how strongly connected some of them already feel to our new medical center. Just the other day, a nurse on a tour with me stopped to take a photo of the studs and drywall that would eventually enclose her new work area. “This is going to be mine,” she told me, pride and anticipation in her voice.

Recently I heard about one of our physical therapist assistants helping out at her child’s softball game in Bonduel. She heard a group of people criticizing the decision to build our new medical center, yet as an employee, she knew well the critical reasons for the upgrade, like a need for more efficient working spaces for employees, more comfort for patients, and new conveniences for families visiting their loved ones. Politely, right alongside the dugout, she explained to them why the new ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano was going to be good for Shawano—and Bonduel!

I bet there was a lot of doubt and worry back in 1931 when money was short, work was hard to find, and the future looked so hopelessly bleak. Yet in the midst of so much strife, one timeless truth remains: good health, or one’s return to health, is a precious gift.

Care and compassion never go out of style, yet sometimes buildings and equipment do. And when they do, we must rally to modernize and plan for the future, just like our hardworking predecessors did in 1931.  Now it’s our turn to pay it forward.